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You got the job. You’ve been promoted, made a lateral move, or perhaps taken a step down the proverbial ladder at a different bigger campus, to a new role in international education.

Image of woman walking up ladder with job titles for education abroad roles, from Administrator to Provost.

Now your job really begins. Before you dive into your new role, here are a few suggestions to get you off to the right start:

  • Take a pause.

Take a breath and recognize your accomplishment. It may sound counter-intuitive to pause before you’ve even started, but strong leaders possess a self-awareness that comes from carving out time and space for reflection. If you can, take off at least a week before you start your new role. Hitting the reset button is incredibly important, especially in the field of international education when you are tasked with being a multi-dimensional employee, constantly interfacing with leadership, staff, and students. To draw from the Celtic tradition, find your own ‘Thin Place’. In the way that makes sense to you, reflect on your career (which likely is not nearly as linear as the image above) and give yourself credit for the accomplishment of having the opportunity to start something new.

  • Get clear on your new role.

There is only so much you can learn about your new job during the interview process. During your onboarding, have a conversation with your boss about their expectations for the role. At Via TRM, our Client Experience team likes to have a conversation with our new clients that goes something along the lines of ‘Here’s what we think you bought – what do you think you bought?’ You could frame your conversation with your boss by considering: ‘Here is what I think the role entails – what do  you think the role entails?’ Are there any grey areas in your job description? If so, take the opportunity to further define your Area of Responsibility and get clarity on what falls within your scope of work. Note: this is an excellent topic to revisit with your manager during your review.

  • Own your onboarding.

Take charge of your onboarding process. Get excited to learn and consider it your first task to get up to speed. Perhaps there is overlap with your predecessor, or maybe they left you a reference or guide to your responsibilities. Regardless of the path that has (or has not) been laid out for you, own it and make sure that you’re learning in the way that works for you. For example, if you are going to be using a new-to-you software, ask for self-service resources if you’d like to find your own way, or a crash course with a colleague if you’d rather ask questions along the way.

  • Listen well.

Implement the 70/30 rule: spend 70% of your time asking questions and 30% of the time sharing about yourself, your background and eventually, your goals for how you’ll lead in your role. Model vulnerability by asking questions when you need further clarity. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “Can you help me understand that  better?”

  • Consider your contribution to the culture, and set an intention.

As a new team member, you will inevitably influence the culture of your new workplace. Here at Via TRM we have a value that we ‘Take responsibility for the energy we bring into the room.’ If you are in a leadership role, this is all the more important. Your staff will be looking to you to set the tone, especially during times of stress or ambiguity. In her recent book, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Touch Conversations. Whole Hearts (an excellent read on leadership in the workplace), Brene Brown writes: “At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized.”

  • Manage expectations.

It’s tempting to over-commit when you start a new job. Give yourself the time to figure out where your biggest contribution can be before you take on too many projects. In the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown, writes “The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

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